Q&A: From Volunteer to Staff Person

When do you take the “hiring” plunge?

We’re relying more on certain volunteers. How do we know when it’s time to hire someone for their ministry work?

At our church, we follow the following two guidelines:

First, we determine the level of expertise needed to do the job. I went from a small mission congregation to a congregation of 2,000 people. I discovered there was a great difference in the time and ability needed to manage a Sunday school of 50 children versus 500 students. As the complexity of the situation grows, so does the need for a paid staff member.

Second, we ask if the quality of the program will diminish without a paid staff position. We operate a vacation Bible school in the summer on three separate campuses. A program of that size takes exceptional management skills simply to handle logistical matters. Coordinating volunteers, transportation, and curriculum for a large VBS demands attention to maintain quality. If a paid staff member was not overseeing our operation on these three campuses, the ministry would collapse under its own weight.

That, however, is the beauty of moving volunteers into staff positions. As ministries grow, our staff grows. We enjoy hiring from within the congregation. It’s been wonderful to watch qualified lay people be trained for ministry and then join our staff.

There are several advantages to growing your own team. They blend well with the existing staff; they understand the ministry; and they are trusted by the congregation. By promoting from within we often save up to seven years in the time needed to make someone truly effective.

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